Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

10 years later, Dixie Chicks right all along

By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor
updated 7:03 PM EST, Tue March 5, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • LZ Granderson: 10 years ago, Dixie Chicks' comments on Iraq war drew denunciations
  • He says history vindicated them. Many decry Iraq war; weapons of mass destruction not found
  • He says many still denounce them, as though they were responsible for war mistake

Editor's note: LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for CNN.com, was named journalist of the year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and is a 2011 Online Journalism Award finalist for commentary. He is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter: @locs_n_laughs.

(CNN) -- Two days past 18

He was waiting for the bus in his Army green ...

Those are the first two lines from one of the most powerful songs I have ever heard, "Traveling Soldier." If you don't know it, I encourage you to look it up -- unless you're one of those folks who still hates the group that made the song popular, in which case, its beauty might be lost on you.

LZ Granderson
LZ Granderson

It was 10 years ago this week -- as the country was barreling toward war with Iraq -- that Natalie Maines, lead singer of the Dixie Chicks, stood in front of a packed house in London and said:

"Just so you know, we're on the good side with y'all. We do not want this war, this violence. And we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas."

Actress Emma Watson, a U.N. goodwill ambassador, joins U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for the launch of the HeForShe campaign Saturday, September 20, at the United Nations. Watson's speech on gender equality has gone viral. Here are some other celebrities' forays into international diplomacy: Actress Emma Watson, a U.N. goodwill ambassador, joins U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for the launch of the HeForShe campaign Saturday, September 20, at the United Nations. Watson's speech on gender equality has gone viral. Here are some other celebrities' forays into international diplomacy:
Celebrities and diplomacy
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
>
>>
Photos: Celebrities\' forays into diplomacy Photos: Celebrities' forays into diplomacy

It didn't matter that the evidence to invade Iraq was questionable or that Maines later apologized. The damage was done, and one of the most popular acts in the country became its most hated. Its music was banned from radio, CDs were trashed by bulldozers, and one band member's home was vandalized. Maines introduced "Soldier" with a call for peace, but she would soon find that the group needed metal detectors installed at entrances to shows on its stateside tour because of death threats.

Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



It was a classic case of freedom of speech meeting the irrational repercussions of that speech. "Soldier" is not only their last No. 1, it's still their last single to chart in the top 30. Officially, they've been on hiatus since 2006, but Maines, who is planning on releasing a solo CD in May, recently said, "I just don't feel like it's the Dixie Chicks' time."

For anyone who appreciates great music, this admission should be vexing. Prior to Maines' 2003 comments, the group's previous two CDs had sold at least 10 million copies each, and they were singing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl. In two years, they had won eight Academy of Country Music Awards, including the male-dominated Entertainer of the Year category in 2000. But they didn't reach that level of popularity because of sexy outfits and Auto-Tuned vocals. They are immensely talented.

If anything, Maines and company should be viewed as prophets, not pariahs, considering that the weapons of mass destruction the Bush administration led the country to believe Saddam Hussein was housing were never found. Or that since 2006, the majority of Americans have felt the invasion was a mistake to begin with.

And yet, despite all that we now know, the Chicks remain ostracized in the world they came from, as if they were the ones who presented false information to the United Nations Security Council; as if they waged a war Tony Blair's right-hand man now says "cannot be justified"; as if the misguided attack were their fault.

Before the group was set to do an interview with Diane Sawyer in late April 2003 -- with hopes of stopping the public relations bleeding -- they questioned why they needed to grovel and beg for Bush's forgiveness. In a scene from the 2006 documentary "Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing," their own PR rep explains, "he's got sky-high approval. The war couldn't be going better. By the time this interview airs ... the looting will be done; the rebuilding of Iraq will be started. ... Two weeks from now, it's going to be even a more positive situation."

Soon after, Bush delivered a victory speech on the deck of an aircraft carrier, underneath a banner that read "Mission Accomplished." The war wasn't declared over until eight years later.

And somehow, folks remain mad at the Chicks.

Last week, in marking the 10-year anniversary of Maines' comments, Country Music Television asked fans whether the Chicks should be forgiven, and more than a third of responders said "no."

Which probably explains why their next performances are in Canada.

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter.

Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of LZ Granderson.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 11:39 AM EDT, Thu October 30, 2014
Mike Downey says the Giants and the Royals both lived through long title droughts. What teams are waiting for a win?
updated 2:32 PM EDT, Thu October 30, 2014
Mel Robbins says if a man wants to talk to a woman on the street, he should follow 3 basic rules.
updated 5:03 PM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
Peter Bergen and David Sterman say more terrorism plots are disrupted by families than by NSA surveillance.
updated 5:25 PM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
Time magazine has clearly kicked up a hornet's nest with its downright insulting cover headlined "Rotten Apples," says Donna Brazile.
updated 4:55 PM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
Leroy Chiao says the failure of the launch is painful but won't stop the trend toward commercializing space.
updated 7:45 AM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
Timothy Stanley: Though Jeb Bush has something to offer, another Bush-Clinton race would be a step backward.
updated 8:37 AM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
Errol Louis says forced to choose between narrow political advantage and the public good, the governors showed they are willing to take the easy way out over Ebola.
updated 2:03 PM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
Eric Liu says with our family and friends and neighbors, each one of us must decide what kind of civilization we expect in the United States. It's our responsibility to set tone and standards, with our laws and norms
updated 7:45 AM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
Sally Kohn says the UNC report highlights how some colleges exploit student athletes while offering little in return
updated 3:04 PM EDT, Sun October 26, 2014
Terrorists don't represent Islam, but Muslims must step up efforts to counter some of the bigotry within the world of Islam, says Fareed Zakaria
updated 9:02 AM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
Scott Yates says extending Daylight Saving Time could save energy, reduce heart attacks and get you more sleep
updated 8:32 PM EDT, Sun October 26, 2014
Reza Aslan says the interplay between beliefs and actions is a lot more complicated than critics of Islam portray
updated 7:19 AM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
Julian Zelizer says control of the Senate will be decided by a few close contests
updated 8:12 AM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
The response of some U.S. institutions that should know better to Ebola has been anything but inspiring, writes Idris Ayodeji Bello.
updated 9:12 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Sigrid Fry-Revere says the National Organ Transplant Act has caused more Americans to die waiting for an organ than died in both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT